Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 11/3/12
It’s a new week, there are new comics, and here we have the second installment of Hench-Sized Reviews! I’m kind of excited that I was able to keep to my schedule. I do have video games to play, after all. Plenty of good issues this week, at least in the comics I buy. I think the stand-out best of the bunch was AvX: Consequences #4. Cyclops is the best he’s been since Joss Whedon was writing him.
Other reviews this week are Aquaman #13, Captain Marvel #6 and Wolverine and the X-Men #19. Join me after the jump!
Writer: Geoff Johns
Arist: Ivan Reis
While Johns’ work on Aquaman might not reach the heights of his revitalization of Green Lantern, I’ve got to say that Johns is still doing an amazing job with the aquatic avenger! Aquaman has been one of the most consistently amazing books in the New 52, with exciting stories, thrilling characterizations and a hero you can be damn proud of. It’s as if Johns and amazing artist Ivan Reis set out to make Aquaman the most badass superhero in DC, and he’s quite clearly succeeded. I bet DC wishes they could get Superman to be as awesome a comic as Aquaman. And that’s saying a lot.
This is the final issue of ‘The Others’ story, and I’ll try to sum it up as best I can. Basically, before he was Aquaman, Arthur of Atlantis was friends with several other quasi-superhero-type people, each with their own unique style and story. Like Vostok the experiment Russian cosmonaut spartan, who was unfortunately killed a few issues ago. Together, this band of adventurers battled the villainous Black Manta, and each one possessed an ancient, magical artifact recovered from Atlantis. Well now in the present day, Manta has returned to claim the final, missing artifact: the Scepter of Atlantis. So Aquaman must team up with his old friends in order to stop Manta. The battle gets pretty brutal, but it’s also very exciting. In the end, Aquaman spares Manta’s life, but is able to prevent him from turning the Scepter over to his mysterious benefactor. Aquaman’s surviving friends then begin to move on with their lives, while Aquaman makes amends with his wife, Mera.
Comic rating: 4/5: Good!
The break last month to tell Arthur’s origin definitely hurt this story. The Others has been just as good, if not better than the opening Aquaman story. Aquaman has been badass, Mera has been cool, Black Manta has been exceptionally villainous and the Others are a swell group of supporting characters. I hope some of them stick around. This is pure exciting comics, people. Even with the loss of momentum, this issue is still a lot of fun. The fight is just phenomenally drawn, with epic scenes and splash pages. When Aquaman shatters Black Manta’s helmet with his trident, it’s devastatingly powerful. Then the maskless Black Manta is downright wild as the fight continues. Every other comic on the stands wishes it could be drawn by Ivan Reis. Here’s hoping Aquaman can stay this good if Johns ever leaves.
AvX: Consequences #4
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Mark Brooks
Holy crap you guys, I am loving this mini-series more and more with each issue. If Avengers vs. X-Men had this level of depth and characterization, it would have been a masterpiece. This is the kind of character-based drama that keeps me excited about comics. The movements of the characters, their motivations, their decisions; it’s all incredibly thrilling. I can’t wait to read the next issue and see what happens next, so I’m glad it comes out next week! I can only hope Brian Michael Bendis’ All-New X-Men is as good as this Kieron Gillen-penned epilogue. Hear that, Bendis? It’s all on you!
Once again, the focus is on Cyclops, though this issue also visits with almost every other member of the PhoeniX-Men, as well as the first major appearance of Magneto. Hope has a visit with Namor down in Atlantis, because apparently, that’s how she plans on finding Cable. Namor seems completely unfazed by his destruction of Wakanda, and nobody seems particularly interested in bringing him in. Hope confronts him about it, and Namor just folds and says that joining with the Phoenix made him feel small, and he doesn’t like feeling small. Storm finds Colossus in a cave in Russia, where he’s sculpting out of the rock, and has grown a bitchin’ beard. Storm wants Colossus to turn himself in, but after seeing his melancholy, she can see that Colossus is also a victim in all of this – a sentiment to which Magneto agrees. He appears at the cave as Storm leaves, and has a conversation with her about what happens next. Storm tells Magneto that he is not a villain, but Magneto retorts that things like ‘hero’ and ‘villain’ are ultimately decided by time.
Cyclops’ story continues to be the most awesome. It opens with Tony Stark visiting Cyclops in prison, and asking if he can scan Scott to get readings about the Phoenix. Cyclops refuses, but Stark reveals that he knew all along that the Phoenix would bring mutants back, so Cyclops agrees to the tests. Later, Cyclops is spending time with his new cellmate Jake, who just gets more and more excited about the possibility of joining the Jean Grey School and becoming an X-Man. Cyclops’ spirits are lifted by Jake’s enthusiasm. But then, when Cyclops is taken away for Stark’s next test, the goons from last issue return and kill Jake!
Wolverine visits Cyclops in his cell, and this time their meeting is much more subdued. Wolverine is apologetic over what happened to Jake, but he doesn’t want to get into a shouting match with Cyclops over whether or not mutant prisoners should be secluded from the general population. In the end, Wolverine tells Cyclops that the Cyclops he knew and learned from wouldn’t do what Cyclops is clearly thinking. But once he’s alone again, Cyclops disagrees. He uses the metal dust to tell Magneto it’s time for a breakout. And in another awesome last page, alongside Magik and Danger, Magneto declares, “Villains it is.”
Comic rating: 5/5: Great!
Sorry for the long recap, but this comic is on fire, and I wanted to get it all in. Though I forgot to mention that Abigail Brand reveals herself to be the mole inside Captain America’s organization. She’s feeding Magneto information to keep the heroes from catching him. But beyond that, this issue is amazing! I loved Colossus’ scene especially. It was gentle, considering his relationship with Storm, and it was poignant. Look no further than Colossus for proof that the Phoenix Force was making the X-Men act out of character. Namor’s scene wasn’t as great, but then I never liked either Namor or Hope.
Then once again, Cyclops’s part of the story is simply amazing. Iron Man continues to accomplish little, but he’s just an excuse to get Cyclops out of the room for the brutal killing of Jake. I did not see that coming. I thought for sure that Jake would be a new mutant character to join Cyclops on his eventual return. But nope! Jake is the catalyst for Cyclops’ upcoming break out, and hopefully his complete and utter badassery as a rogue mutant freedom fighter alongside Magneto and the others. That final page was great. The world will view them as villains, but we know better, my friends. We know better. Pax Utopia.
Captain Marvel #6
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Emma Rios
While I have definitely been enjoying the new Captain Marvel series, I have never gotten behind this weird time travel storyline. Call me overly modern, but I prefer to read comics with a grounding in reality and realism. Having Captain Marvel race off on a trip through time in her very first adventure strains my interest. Especially since the story, so far, has been rather insignificant to anything. It’s just a romp through time with random characters. I suppose it’s doing a bit to establish Captain Marvel’s character, but not against a backdrop I like. Thankfully, this is the final issue of the story.
Captain Marvel has now jumped through time to the point of her origin, where an alien machine transferred the powers of the alien Kree warrior into Carol Danvers. Only now she’s joined by time traveling companion Helen Cobb. Helen, you see, was Carol’s pilot mentor growing up, and she recently passed away and left her airplane to Carol in her will. And due to time travel, Carol has met a younger, snappier version of Helen, who has been dragged along with the time travel. Kind of confusing to write, but it makes sense in the comic. With Helen’s advice, Carol wonders if perhaps she should step in and prevent her past self from getting super powers – only for Helen to step up and take them for herself! Twist! After a brief fight against a powered Helen, Carol returns to her time machine (Helen’s gifted plane) and returns to the present in time to make it to the hospital to see her friend before cancer surgery.
Comic rating: 3/5: Alright.
While I’ve mostly enjoyed the new Captain Marvel series, I just can’t say this story has risen to what I was hoping. Carol has been a fun protagonist, but the story has been all over the place, and too wild to really ground a new, risky comic book series. Female leads don’t always have the best success rate in comics. It’s a shame, but it’s the truth. So in this series, I was hoping they’d come out of the gate running…but they’ve stumbled, just a bit. This was an alright story, I just don’t think they should have led with it. Helen’s betrayal kind of comes out of nowhere, and I wasn’t entirely sure what exactly was happening during the big, climactic explosion part. The art, while good, just wasn’t the right fit for this series. Especially when the series’ first artist suddenly disappeared after a few issues, replaced by someone whose style is the complete opposite. So while the writing is strong and the character fun, I did not think this was the best start Captain Marvel should have had. Though I definitely plan to keep reading.
Wolverine and the X-Men #19
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Nick Bradshaw
No comic on the stands is having more fun than Wolverine and the X-Men. There are better comics, and there are more adventurous comics, but nobody is have as much of a blast writing the X-Men as Jason Aaron. From issue one all the way through their Avengers vs. X-Men tie-ins, Aaron has just been going wild with his wacky cast of characters, their zany setting and all the weirdness in between. And it helps that he’s got an artist like Nick Bradshaw helping out, whose style is a mix of cartoony and realistic. And this sense of fun permeates every page, making Wolverine and the X-Men a treat to read with every issue.
With AvX finally done, Aaron is free to return to his own stories, and this issue is basically just a big jumping on point. Aaron checks in on every single character in the cast, starts a few new plots and basically let’s everybody know who they’re reading and what they’re doing, and what sort of mischief they’re going to get up to in the second year of the series. So let’s see what everybody is up to, super speed style!
Swam attacks the school, but gets defeated by Krakoa and the mini-Nightcrawlers. Kitty is trying to hire a new teacher to replace the departing Husk. She interviews, Blade, Ghost Rider, Deadpool, Puck, Sasquatch, Longshot, Damian Hellstorm, Dr. Nemesis, Gorilla-Man, Werewolf-by-Night, Fat Cobra and an actual, licensed teacher before settling on Storm. Husk, meanwhile, appears to be sliding further off the deep end, with her powers looking pretty funky. Toad is angry because he thinks Husk was kicked out, and he’s getting tired of being pushed around as janitor. Broo is alive, but in a coma, and Beast is trying to make him better. Wolverine and Rachel are tracking the Hellfire Kids, who are camping in the woods nearby and using some technology to hide them. Angel has got control of his company back. That Chinese, rocky insectoid mutant girl from Avengers vs. X-Men #12 actually shows up and wasn’t just a throw away character. Nice. Oh, and an evil carnival is coming to town.
Comic rating: 4/5: Good!
This issue may jump around a lot, but it’s still a lot of fun. Kitty’s interviews are hilarious (though sometimes grating in terms of character). The various plots seem very interesting, even if I completely hate the Hellfire Kids and wish they would go away. Most of the characters get a moment or two to shine, especially Toad. I love me some Toad. I can’t say as how this evil carnival interests me at all, but the character work remains top notch. And, like I said, the art is phenomenal. It’s just so happy and fun! Definitely a great way to get caught up in a big book like Wolverine and the X-Men. And I’m going to keep an eye on Jia Jing, the Chinese mutant. I like that she wasn’t just a throwaway character at the end of Avengers vs. X-Men. Maybe she’ll be the next break out star!
As always, if you have any suggestions you’d like me to review in this new weekly feature, let me know in the comments!